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Andrew Wyeth: Early Watercolors

October 8, 2004 - January 10, 2005


(above: Andrew Wyeth, The Road to Friendship, 1941, watercolor. Farnsworth Art Museum, © Andrew Wyeth.)


Sixty-five years ago, the director of a new museum called the Currier Gallery of Art featured a promising 21-year-old painter named Andrew Wyeth in a solo exhibition. Maud Briggs Knowlton had been impressed by the work of the young artist, and she wasn't alone. Two years earlier, Wyeth's debut at the prominent Macbeth Gallery in New York City had sold out so quickly, the gallery owner lamented that the paintings were gone before his best clients had even seen the show. (right: Andrew Wyeth, Big Spruce, 1938, watercolor, private collection, © Andrew Wyeth.)

Today, Andrew Wyeth is an American icon, a revered master of realism and a noted -- if reluctant -- celebrity in the art world. The Currier Museum of Art, known for its unique combination of intimacy and excellence, is a renowned cultural institution celebrating its 75th anniversary. And once again, the Currier is honored to present an exhibition of paintings by Andrew Wyeth.

From October 8, 2004 through January 10, 2005, the Currier will host Andrew Wyeth: Early Watercolors, an exhibition of 52 watercolors and two temperas painted by the artist during the first 15 years of his career. Many of the works are from the collection of the artist and his wife, Betsy, and have not been exhibited publicly.

The exhibition is sponsored by a generous grant from Citizens Bank Foundation.. After leaving the Currier, the exhibition travels to the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine from April 5 - July 31, 2005.


An American Icon

Andrew Wyeth was born the youngest of five siblings on July 12, 1917, in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. His father, famed illustrator N.C. Wyeth, taught all his artistic children. But Andrew, frail in health and demonstrating perhaps the most promise of all, was carefully nurtured by his father in the studio. (right: Andrew Wyeth, Beckie King Study, 1946, watercolor, private collection, © Andrew Wyeth)

Wyeth's early watercolors reveal a rich and sometimes bold palette, an original vision, and an authentic sense of place. They reveal the land and people Wyeth cherished both in his home of Chadds Ford and coastal Maine, near Port Clyde, where he has spent his summers since youth. The boldly painted, rarely seen watercolors are distinctly different from the subdued tones and fine detail of Wyeth's later work in tempera. In the 1940s, his palette became more muted, and his focus turned more frequently from the broad landscape to a single object or group of objects.

Andrew Wyeth: Early Watercolors highlights another early association between the artist and the Currier. In 1951 the Currier organized his first major retrospective, in collaboration with the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine. By this time, Wyeth had achieved national fame with cornerstone paintings in tempera, like Winter (1946), Wind from the Sea (1947) and Christina's World (1948).


Gallery Talks, Concerts, and More

Two gallery talks further explore the life and work of the artist. On Thursday, October 21, exhibition curator and Currier Director Susan Strickler presents "Andrew Wyeth and the American Watercolor Tradition." This illustrated talk explores Wyeth's place within the tradition of watercolor painting in America. (right: Andrew Wyeth, Spindrift, 1950, tempera, Currier Museum of Art, © Andrew Wyeth.)

On Thursday, November 18, Christopher Crosman, Director of the Farnsworth Art Museum and Wyeth Center, presents a fresh look at Wyeth's iconic painting Christina's World, placing it in the context of Wyeth's long career and American art in general. This talk, entitled, "Andrew Wyeth in Context: Christina's World Revisited" also examines connections between Wyeth's work and that of Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, and contemporaries including the Abstract Expressionists.

Music-lovers can celebrate Wyeth's work with an "Homage to Andrew Wyeth" on Thursday, November 4, at 6:00pm, when Allen Barker plays piano music inspired by the watercolors of Andrew Wyeth, including a composition by Ann Wyeth McCoy, the artist's sister.

On Thursday, December 30, from 1:00 - 4:00pm, Artist-in-Residence Ann Trainor Domingue demonstrates the techniques and challenges of watercolor painting in the museum's court. And, at 2:00pm every Thursday through Sunday during the exhibition, the film, "Andrew Wyeth: Self Portrait - Snow Hill" will be shown in the Currier's auditorium.



To accompany the exhibition, the Currier has published a full-color, 72-page catalogue available through the Museum gift shop.


(above: Andrew Wyeth, Jack-In-The-Pulpit, 1943, watercolor, private collection, © Andrew Wyeth.)

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